Anthony Payne Biography (BBC)
Composer, writer, broadcaster, teacher and animateur, Anthony Payne is one of the most respected British musicians of his generation. Born in London in 1936, he began composing as a schoolboy – though, after reading Music at Durham University, he suffered a period of creative uncertainty as he struggled to integrate the innovations of the then-ascendant Continental avant-garde with the Romanticism of early 20th-century British composers such as Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams, for which he felt a personal affinity. Only with the completion in his mid-thirties of his Phoenix Mass (1965–72) did he at last sense ‘the natural emergence of a new manner, long sought after but previously only partly envisaged’.
Since then he has accumulated an impressive catalogue of over 50 works in all genres except opera. This has centred on three major orchestral commissions for the BBC Proms: The Spirit’s Harvest (1985), Time’s Arrow (1990) – recorded for commercial release by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis – and Visions and Journeys (2002), subsequently voted by BBC Radio 3 listeners the winner of the 2003 British Composer Awards. Other substantial concert works include the remarkable Spring’s Shining Wake (1981) – a close paraphrase in Payne’s own style of Delius’s In a Summer Garden – and the touchingly autobiographical orchestral variations, The Seeds Long Hidden (1994), while his many varied ensemble pieces range from the rigorously constructivist String Quartet (1978) to the whimsical fantasy of the much played sextet A Day in the Life of a Mayfly (1981). An ensemble piece entitled Windows on Eternity, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta was premiered in 2007.
Meanwhile, Payne has continued to promote the understanding of music through a multiplicity of other activities. As an author, his influential books on Schoenberg and Frank Bridge have more recently been complemented by his monograph on Elgar’s Third Symphony – a companion to his celebrated ‘elaboration’ of the sketches for the work itself, now firmly established in the classical repertory. Over the decades, he has also served as a music critic for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Country Life, while contributing to a gamut of more specialist publications ranging from Tempo to The New Grove Dictionary. He has taught in universities as far afield as Australia and the United States, and has broadcast frequently on music – indeed, it was his illustrated talk on Elgar’s sketches, broadcast in 1995 as part of Radio 3’s year-long celebration of British music, Fairest Isle, and subsequently released on disc by BBC Music Magazine, that initially revived widespread interest in a performing realisation of the Third Symphony material.
And, in addition to years of involvement in the Society for the Promotion of New Music, Payne continues to guide the questing young ensemble, Jane’s Minstrels, which he co-founded in 1988 with his wife, the distinguished soprano Jane Manning, as a practical extension of his lifelong dedication to music.
Profile © Bayan Northcott
Anthony Payne Biography (Wikipedia)
Anthony Payne (born 2 August 1936) is an English composer, most famous for the work published as Edward Elgar: The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 elaborated by Anthony Payne. His career as a composer might be described as a continuous attempt to reconcile his personal affinity with British composers of the early 20th century (especially Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar and Frank Bridge) with the stylistic innovations of post-war contemporary music.
Anthony Payne Tracks